Bringing ecology blogging into the scientific fold


We’re co-authors on a new paper on “Bringing ecology blogging into the scientific fold: measuring reach and impact of science community blogs”. Of course we encourage you to go ahead and read the paper, because it doesn’t just have our perspectives but is the work of a collection of great bloggers. You can read what our coauthors make of our new paper, too: Manu Saunders of Ecology is Not a Dirty Word, Jeff Ollerton’s Biodiversity Blog, Meg Duffy from Dynamic Ecology, Simon Leather’s Don’t Forget the Roundabouts, Stephen Heard’s Scientist Sees Squirrel, and Margaret Kosmala’s Ec0l0gy B1ts.

If you don’t get to read the publication, our main take home is that there is a large group of people who do read science community blogs, and the influence of these blogs is larger than many realize.

So if you need a gentle push to start that blog you’ve been thinking about, we hope our paper can be an inspiration. Or maybe it can be something to point that colleague/department head/etc to when they suggest blogging is a waste of time. Of course, you are already here reading our blog so you don’t need convincing. But by formalizing our thoughts, experiences, and data in the academic literature perhaps we can also reach a few more and convince them of the benefits of science community blogs. Or better yet, give you the ammo you need to do so!

For a little more about this paper from our own perspectives:

Terry: Some folks are quite curious about how much traffic blogs get, so now we’ve assembled our numbers and put them in context. A well-written and on-point blog post will typically have higher visibility than academic papers. We are well aware that readership is different from impact, and I think the real value of this paper is our attempt to surmise the impact of blogs within our academic community. (I discussed a year and a half ago about the possible impact of this site, based on my own anecdotal evidence. I think we’ve come a long way since then.) If blogging is so impactful, should more people be doing it, and if so, who? As we were building this manuscript, I tried to answer this question for a friend — and if you’re wondering if a blog is for you, then I’d point you to that piece about the email I sent to my friend.

Amy: While a bit circular in its argument, for me one of pieces of evidence for the benefits of blogging is being a co-author on this paper about blogging. Here I got to collaborate with people I have never met and whose research is generally outside my own. We are all ecologists and bloggers and while you could draw connections in research themes, it is difficult to imagine another context for all of us appearing on a paper together. Connecting with like-minded folks and learning from those with different perspectives is really one of the main benefits I’ve gotten from of being a part of the on-line community of scientists. For me it was also a real honour to be asked to be a part of this collaboration, especially since I haven’t been blogging as regularly as I used to. So I’ll try to use the paper as my own push to get back into blogging regularly! More broadly, I think it is a great opportunity to reach people from outside those already reading and writing blogs by taking the message to a different medium. I still encounter people who view blogs as a waste of time or a leisure pursuit rather than something that could have value in their academic life. If we can reach even a few of these it will be a great accomplishment.

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